Mercy for Animals Petition Denied By USDA

Animal rights group Mercy for Animals’ petition to USDA seeking more animal handling protection for chickens and turkeys sent to slaughter was rejected by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Mercy for Animals called the decision “shameful” in a blog on the group’s web site, and said it plans to “pursue all available legal options” in an effort to reverse the decision.

In November the group petitioned USDA to include poultry under the 1958 Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires humane treatment of all food animals in USDA inspected slaughter plants, but does not apply to chickens or birds.

However, in a letter announcing the decision, Carmen M. Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Office of Food Safety, wrote that poultry is already protected by other regulations that protect birds during the slaughter process. Rottenberg noted that under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and agency regulations, live poultry must be handled in a manner that is “consistent with good commercial practices, which means they should be treated humanely.”

Mercy for Animals calls modern poultry slaughter “dirty, dangerous and cruel,” and claims live-action shackling of poultry can lead to increased fecal contamination of meat, higher injury rates among plant workers and can leave birds conscious while their throats are slit during slaughter.

-Greg Henderson